A/N: Alright. This is written for Mrs. Bonner's challenge: Gwaine and the Necklace. Basically the idea is to write about… Gwaine's necklace, and why he always wears it. This will be a multi-chapter, but not a more than a few chapters. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I've heard that the pendant or whatever it's called actually belongs to Eoin, not the character, and that he always wears it. If it's something of sentimental value to the actor, I honestly don't mean any harm and I don't mean to make light of it if it's important. This is just about Gwaine, who as a character I am free to play around with. Is that cool?
Now, the contest is won by review count, so of course I would love if people would review and help me win. However, reviews have to be signed to count for the contest, so though I still love you anon reviewers who tell me what you think, please don't think cheating by reviewing multiple times will work. Not that I think anyone would do that.
The Loser's Prize
They hadn't expected the attack.
It had just been the "new" knights, as Merlin thought of them, as well as the king and Merlin. They'd been out hunting. Arthur was trying to chase all confusing thoughts of how he'd treated Mithian and how he felt about Gwen out of his head. Merlin had been very close to mocking him about how killing things mended broken hearts—but then he remembered where he had heard the line from and he'd choked on the words.
So they'd gone hunting, but the knights had wanted to come along, and in the end it was a small group of men that left Camelot for a few days, leaving Agravaine in charge (against Merlin's better judgment). But Merlin comforted himself that Gaius would keep things together.
It was the first night, only a few hours into the trip, and blackness had fallen over the forest, so they built a fire and sat around the warm, flying sparks, talking back and forth. The knights kept Arthur from melancholy with their almost-obnoxious cheerfulness. Percival, having just heard a slightly-inappropriate but oh-so-very-funny joke from Elyan, had just thrown his head back to laugh out loud when an arrow sliced through the air and landed in the back of the big man's shoulder.
Percival's laugh turned into a roar of pain, and everyone leapt to their feet to face the enemy. There were about a dozen of them, black-garbed men with no distinguishing marks. They attacked fiercely, seemingly after blood, not goods.
Merlin backed into a tree, grabbing a long stick from the ground, and dispatched one with a flash of his eyes, trying to keep and eye on Arthur at the same time. Arthur had thrown himself into the fray with a ferocity that made it look like he had been hoping for a fight. The other knights joined the fight with almost as much enthusiasm, except for Elyan, who hung back slightly so he could remain near Percival, who was slumped on the floor, trying to pick up his sword.
Merlin looked away to strike out at the man who'd gotten close to him. The man gave a holler, thinking Merlin an easy target, and went in for the kill. Several seconds later, that man was dead and Merlin was glad that Arthur went so hard on him when the king trained the knights. Looking back over his friends, he quickly killed a man with magic who was trying to overwhelm the king, and then noticed that Percival had given up with the sword and was just using his body—fists, arms, legs. Gwaine gave a yell as someone nearly beat him, but managed to recover.
And in just a few minutes, it was over.
It was a weak attempt, Merlin noted. Agravaine and Morgana were probably desperate. That made him smile tightly.
Arthur finished off the last attacker, straightened his back, wiped his head, and called, "Men! Is everyone alright?"
Gwaine and Leon came crashing back through the trees, both assuring Arthur with raised voices that they were alive and uninjured. Merlin came away from his tree and nodded. "Have I ever told you," Merlin said, "how much I hate your hunting trips?"
"Here, Percival's injured," called Elyan from by the fire. All signs of light-heartedness left Arthur as he rushed to attend to the knight.
"Is it bad?"
Percival was crouched on the ground, leaning against another tree, gritting his teeth while Elyan tried to push aside his chainmail to see the wound clearly. "I'll live," he said. "It was the arrow."
"Who was the archer?" asked Arthur.
"He's dead, back there," Gwaine said, pointing absentmindedly.
"We're only a few hours from Camelot," Arthur noted, looking over Percival. "Can you ride? It would be better just to take you back to Gaius."
"I can," said Percival. "But… the trip…"
Arthur shook his head and waved that thought aside. The fighting had actually done him some good. He didn't look so somber anymore. "Only the prey are supposed to get hit during these trips," he said. Percival smiled reluctantly. "We'll head back."
Elyan started helping Percival to his feet. Gwaine leant over to help. But then he stopped, looking alarmed, and his outstretched hand came back towards his body and rested right on his collarbone.
"Oh, no," he said, standing up. He ran his hand over his neck, and then looked down his shirt. He actually looked a little comedic, but the panic on his face kept Merlin from laughing. "I've lost it!"
"What?" said Arthur.
Gwaine was already tearing towards the other side of the impromptu battlefield.
"His necklace," said Merlin suddenly. "That's what it is, right?"
Gwaine nodded, his usually smiling face sober. "It must have come off during the battle. I need to find that."
"Gwaine," Arthur said in a tone of surprise. "You'll never find it now. It could be anywhere."
The knight looked up at him with a set face. "I have to find it!"
"Why? Is it important?"
Gwaine's mouth opened, then closed, then opened, and at last he grumbled, "I… suppose not. It's not valuable or anything. But I have to find it."
"We have to get Percival back," Arthur said. "Leave it, Gwaine, we have to get moving." He turned back to Percival, who was attempting to get on his horse with the use of only one hand. Leon and Elyan both tried to help, but were more of a hindrance. "Let's go."
Merlin thought that was a little harsh coming from a man who'd recently changed his mind about getting married due to a piece of jewelry. But Arthur was not trying to be cruel; he simply did not see the hidden look on Gwaine's face or the seriousness of his words.
Gwaine glared after Arthur for a second before he ducked his head and muttered, just loudly enough to be heard, "Yes, Sire." And then he began to follow after Arthur.
Merlin, right behind Gwaine as the group moved to put out the fire and get moving, despite how dark it was outside, reflected that Arthur probably thought that was the end of it. But Merlin knew Gwaine and he knew that look, so he knew better.